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Summary: Encouragement to gain a new perspective on how to incorporate the use of "subtraction" in all forms of our daily lives and ministry.

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WHAT IS THE FIRST THING THAT COMES TO MIND WHEN YOU HEAR THE WORD “SUBTRACTION?” DO WORDS SUCH AS “REMOVE,” OR “TAKE AWAY” COME TO MIND?

IS IT SAFE TO SAY THAT WE ARE A SOCIETY THAT WOULD PROBABLY ASSOCIATE THE WORD "SUBTRACTION" WITH NEGATIVE THINGS SUCH AS "LOSING" OR HAVING "THINGS TAKEN AWAY."

I WONDER IF WE HAVE EVER CONSIDERED LOOKING AT THE WORD "SUBTRACTION" AS A VERY POSITIVE WORD. IN ONE BOOK THAT I WAS READING, I WAS INTRIGUED BY A CONCEPT USED BY MOTHER TERESA IN REGARDS TO HER MINISTRY THAT WAS INFAMOUS FOR HELPING THE KIND OF PEOPLE WHO DEALT WITH SO MUCH PAIN, MISERY, DEATH, AND SICKNESS.

SOMEONE HAD ASKED HER HOW SHE COULD NOT HELP BUT BECOME OVERWHELMED WHEN THERE WERE OBVIOUSLY MORE PEOPLE THAN SHE COULD HELP. IT WAS OBVIOUS TO THIS PERSON THAT WHAT SHE DID WAS ONLY SCRATCHING THE SURFACE.

EVEN THOUGH MOTHER TERESA COULD OBVIOUSLY SEE THAT THE NEED WAS FAR GREATER THAN HER ABILITY TO "HELP EVERYONE" SHE RESPONDED BY SAYING THAT BY LOOKING AT IT THAT WAY WAS APPLYING THE WRONG MATH.

MOTHER TERESA BEGAN TO EXPLAIN THAT CHOICE SHE MADE WAS TO USE THE ART OF SUBTRACTION. FOR EXAMPLE, EVERY TIME SHE LOVED AND CARED FOR A DESTITUTE AND DYING PERSON, EVERY TIME SHE RESCUED A GIRL FROM PROSTITUTION, EVERY TIME SHE COMFORTED A HURTING SOUL, SHE WAS SUBTRACTING FROM THE DESPAIR AND ADDING TO HOPE.

THIS IS THE SAME ATTITUDE I AM ENCOURAGING ALL OF US TO ADOPT THIS MORNING. DESPITE THE OVERWHELMING NEEDS THAT FACE OUR WORLD TODAY, WE CAN LOVINGLY AND OBEDIENTLY “CHIP AWAY” AT THEM ONE-BY-ONE, SLOWLY-BUT-SURELY TO BRING HOPE, HEALING AND THE REDEEMING POWER OF JESUS.

THIS IS THE POWER CONTAINED IN THE WORDS OF JESUS CHRIST IN MARK 9:41. JESUS IS ILLUSTRATING A POINT THAT IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO DO ANYTHING INSIGNIFICANT IN THE EYES OF GOD. SOMETHING AS SIMPLE AS OFFERING SOMEONE A CUP OF COLD WATER PROVIDES A SIGNIFICANT INSIGHT TO THE LOVE OF GOD.

THIS REVELATION INTO ONE OF THE MOST INSIGNIFICANT ACTS OF HOSPITALITY UNLOCKS A GENEROUS PROPORTION OF WHO WE ARE AND WHO WE SERVE. IT SENDS A VERY DISTINCT MESSAGE: WHATEVER WE DO, WE DO IN THE NAME OF CHRIST BECAUSE WE BELONG TO CHRIST.

MARK IS SENDING A STRONG MESSAGE USING THE IMAGRY OF A “CUP OF COLD WATER.” THIS SIMPLE ACT OF HOSPITALITY IS A SYMBOL TO EHPHASIZE THAT WE MUST BE COMPLETELY SATISFIED WITH THE MOST INSIGNIFICANT SERVICE, EVEN AS GOD HIMSELF IS CONTENT WITH THOSE WHO OFFER IT.

WE GIVE…WE SERVE…WE VOLUNTEER…WE DONATE…WE LIVE OBEDIENTLY ALL BECAUSE WE KNOW WE ARE NOT ONLY REPRESENTING JESUS CHRIST WHEN DOING THESE THINGS, BUT LITERALLY DOING THEM AS IF FOR JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF.

I REALIZE THE WORLD IS FOREVER STUCK IN THE MINDSET OF THE GRANDEUR, THE SPECTACULAR, AND THE MIND-BLOWING SPECTACLES OF PERFORMANCE. THE WORLD WILL ALWAYS HAVE A NEED FOR WITNESSING THE “WOW-FACTOR” OF THE “END RESULT.”

I AM AFRAID THAT EVEN THE CHURCH IS “BUYING IN” TO THE SAME MIND-SET. WE ARE SO FIXATED ON ASSOCIATING “NUMBERS” WITH “SUCCESS” SO IF OUR WORSHIP SERVICE “ONLY HAS 70” INSTEAD OF 100, A BIBLE STUDY “JUST HAS 8” INSTEAD OF “AT LEAST 30,” OR A SPECIAL EVENT “ONLY GATHERED 50” DESPITE PLANNING FOR 100, WE SOMEHOW FAILED OR DID SOMETHING WRONG.


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